Fresh out of Gaulier, Elf Lyons is embarking on an experimental new hour of stand up, inspired by her fascination with ballet.
Lyons is critical of various ballet productions, including Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, and this leads her to attempt to recreate Swan Lake as a one-woman production, in French. These extravagant intentions are realised within a small theatre room above the Old Joint Stock pub in Birmingham. It’s the first outing of Elf’s new material but the confidence of her delivery doesn’t give the audience this impression.
Timeless in a way that is reminiscent Noel Fielding’s performance in The Mighty Boosh, Elf is a wide-eyed, theatrical whirlwind of a performer. She is uncompromising but likeable, with a cheeky glint in her eye like that of a naughty school girl. And I’m sure that’s what she must have been, underneath the shy, awkward exterior of her youth that she describes.
In her efforts to create ‘something out of nothing’, Lyons gets swept up in the fantasy of ballet narratives whilst remaining astutely self-aware. Her comedy is obscure, often relying on visuals, utilising costume, dance and mime, and she teeters on the border between long-limbed elegance and charming clumsiness. Elf is an endless cultivator of energy on stage. And with a style of comedy that is predominantly child-friendly due to its clownish nature, alongside an abundance of fresh ideas that will be refined through further stage time, Lyons’ comedy is generally accessible if you are willing to leave your inhibitions at the door.
Whereas this performance had Elf detail her plans for her new rendition of Swan Lake, it also jumped around to explore lots of other areas including her time spent in France over the past year with a 45 year old lover, her relationship with her mother growing up and time spent at the Priory as a child. It will be interesting to see which elements make it to the final show, or whether the ambition of a full production of Swan Lake performed in under an hour will come to fruition.